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Formula 1

F1 Driver Market: Understanding The Domino Effect

A comprehensive analysis of the unpredictable and dynamic Formula 1 driver market for the 2025 season, driven by key moves and emerging talents.

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The F1 driver market in 2024 has been everything but straightforward. It all started when Lewis Hamilton announced his shocking departure from Mercedes. He was leaving a team that had been with him from the start of his career. All of his 7 World Championships came with Mercedes power. He left the Stuttgart team to join the team in Maranello. Statistically, the most successful driver on the grid was on his way to the most successful team on the grid.

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With Carlos Sainz out of a seat, he became the hottest prospect on the driver market. Every team that had a seat available wanted to get a Spaniard in it. He had proved he was a good midfield driver during his Renault/McLaren days, and when he got a competitive Ferrari, he showed he had it in him to fight for wins too.

Carlos Sainz: The Bottleneck

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Carlos Sainz is a very crucial driver to understand and put together the driver market for 2025. His single move to a team determines the placement of all other drivers. Williams, Audi (currently Stake Sauber), and Alpine are showing interest in the Spaniard. It’s up to Sainz to decide where he wants to drive next year. In an ideal scenario, Sainz would’ve liked to remain in a top team, either with Red Bull or Mercedes. But with Red Bull confirming Perez alongside Max and Mercedes in no hurry to make their decision, Sainz would have to settle for a lower-table team.

Audi F1 Project

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Audi has been clear from the start, that they want Carlos Sainz in the team. The team earlier signed Nico Hulkenberg who was a no-brainer, a German driver in a German team. Sainz has been offered a very lucrative deal to join the project. However, Sainz is interested more in performance than money. Audi which is currently Sauber sits at the bottom of the Constructor Standings. With Audi coming in 2026, the team would still take a few years to move up to the top half of the field. So while monetarily the deal sounds good, on the performance side it’s not so much. For Audi, the other option would be Esteban Ocon, who left Alpine and is considered a strong midfield driver. Another option would be to re-sign Valterri Bottas who is already at the team and is a former race winner with another German team on the grid.

Alpine’s second seat.

Ever since Flavio Briatore joined the Enstone team, the rumours of Alpine wanting Sainz have picked up the pace. Alpine wants to move up the field quickly and is making its decisions to align them on this path. Bringing Briatore back into the team as an executive advisor was part of it. Signing Carlos Sainz would be a statement of intent from the team. They have already confirmed Gasly on a multi-year deal, bringing some consistency in their future. On the second seat, should Sainz decide not to partner up with Gasly the other option would be Jack Doohan.

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The Alpine Academy driver who finished 3rd in Formula 2 last year is currently the team’s reserve driver. Promoting him to the team will also show the team’s confidence in their academy and junior drivers. Another option would be to bring the ex-Alpine Academy driver Zhou into the team. The Chinese driver will most probably end up without a seat next season with Audi (Sauber) showing no interest in him. Alpine can also promote other Academy drivers, Victor Martins or Kush Maini, should either one of them have a stellar Formula 2 campaign in the remainder of the year.

Williams Rebuild

Williams under James Vowles are on their way to the front. The team has shown promise and an uptick in form compared to their previous years. Recently the team announced the hiring of top technical talent from around the grid. Carlos Sainz is the driver that the team wants to lead its rebuilding. Sainz is also said to be inclined more towards Williams out of all his offers. Vowles’s leadership and a promising Mercedes engine in 2026 are what attract the Spaniard to the team.

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Williams also has Bottas as their backup plan in case Sainz doesn’t join them. The Finn started his career with Williams and would come to a full circle should he end up there. Another option could be to bring Mercedes junior Kimi Antonelli to the team. But with the Italian all but confirmed for Mercedes, this outcome could be an unlikely one.

VCARB’s Dilemma

VCARB or RB was quick to extend Yuki Tsunoda’s contract with the team. It’s the other seat they have a dilemma about. Daniel Ricciardo needs no introduction, and it is safe to say he brings in wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. However, his performances are not meeting the standards he has set for himself, something he has also said multiple times. RB is a junior team, on the grid to train young drivers before they step up to Red Bull Racing. In that sense, the team might think about promoting Liam Lawson.

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The Kiwi turned out for the team last year during Ricciardo’s injury phase and impressed everyone. Should RB promote Lawson, that would mean Ricciardo would be available on the driver market. If you’re a team that’s looking for a driver with experience and a wealth of knowledge, it’s a no-brainer for you to sign Ricciardo. Teams like Audi or Williams should try and get the Australian’s signature should he be dropped by RB.

Junior drivers set for promotions

Oliver Bearman and Andrea Kimi Antonelli who are currently teammates at Prema in Formula 2 are all but confirmed to get their Formula 1 call-ups. Oliver Bearman who subbed at the last minute for Carlos Sainz is vouched to get a seat at Haas for next year. The Brit impressed everyone on his Formula 1 debut for Ferrari, scoring 6 points. He was also voted the “Driver of the Day” by the fans.

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Bearman’s current teammate might end up partnering George Russell at Mercedes. The Italian already has enough super license points to his name. Just 17 years of age, he has won 4 Feeder Series titles in the last 2 years. He was also promoted to Formula 2 after just one year in the Formula Regional European Championship, where he won the title. Mercedes would look to bring Kimi into the team to secure their future. With Lewis Hamilton out of the team, George Russell automatically takes the leadership role within the team. Kimi is someone they can bring into the team in 2025 and prepare him for the future. Bringing someone like Sainz could hamper the team dynamics as neither Russell nor Sainz would settle to be the ‘Second Driver’. The team has learned its lessons from 2016 and would want to have a compatible driver pairing at their helm.

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Mercedes also has another out-of-the-box option for their vacant seat, signing Max from Red Bull. It is no secret that Red Bull is having internal conflicts within the team. From Horner’s scandal at the start of the year to Newey leaving the team more recently, the Austrian team might be losing its stability. Mercedes would do anything to bring Max into the team. Jos Verstappen has also been very vocal about not being a fan of Horner lately. His most recent comments came today calling Horner “childish”.

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Max has said that he is happy where he is now. Red Bull offers him the chance to fight for championships. Max himself too is very comfortable with how the car behaves and can drive it according to his preference. In the recent few races, it is Max who has won the races from others rather than the car who has won it for him. So it’s safe to say that Max might not leave Red Bull for a much inferior Mercedes, but in the silly world of F1, you just never know.

Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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